Bon Jovi's David Bryan talks writing music for 'Memphis'

David Bryan can relate with the cast of Memphis, playing at the Ziff Ballet Opera House through Sunday. The keyboardist who wrote the songs and lyrics for the rousing Tony Award winner is in the middle of a world tour with his longtime band Bon Jovi. “I understand the touring aspect,” says Bryan, who just wrapped the U.S. leg; the guys now have about roughly 90 shows to go in 30 countries. “This is 30 years’ of experience. It’s what I do. I love it.” Another love is for the city where blues and rock and roll were born: Memphis, Tenn.

“One of the most amazing places on the planet,” Bryan says. “You go to Beale Street and pop in somewhere, and there are drinks up in the air and you’re on your feet. For a second you’re carefree. You just get the music, you know where to go.” The play, which had a highly successful run on Broadway from 2009-12, centers around a white DJ in the 1950s embarking on a forbidden affair with a black woman. Memphis is optimistic, “not preachy,” says Bryan, a father of three. “It’s about celebrating what keeps us together and not what separates us. It’ll surprise you with a whole lot of emotion, and you end up joyous, thinking there’s still hope that the world is a better place.”